Kenya Runners Training Camp
AP

Inside Kenya distance running training camp (photos)

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KAPTAGAT, Kenya (AP) — The hand-written roster — misspelled “rosta” — tells the runners when it’s their turn for communal chores. Stephen Kiprotich‘s name is on it. So is Eliud Kipchoge‘s.

At the Olympic Games, World Championships and the biggest marathons, both men are stars. But in the high-altitude training camp in western Kenya where they live like monks, they muck out shared toilets and do the washing up just like everyone else.

Kiprotich and Kipchoge are convinced their no-frills lifestyle is vital for their success. With their wealth, they could cover themselves with bling. Instead, they draw washing water from an outdoor well, drink milk from cows that graze the surrounding fields and share cramped bedrooms with other athletes.

On the wall above Kipchoge’s bed, the Olympic 5000m silver medalist in 2008 and bronze medalist in 2004 has hung a nugget of wisdom from Brazilian author Paulo Coelho — “If you want to be successful, you must respect one rule: Never lie to yourself.”

The winner of the London, Berlin and Chicago marathons is both philosophical and frustrated about the doping crisis corroding the hard-earned reputation of Kenyan running, with 38 athletes banned since the East African nation won 11 medals at the 2012 Games in London.

Kipchoge blames the short-sighted pursuit of money.

“People forget that money cannot be harvested,” he says. “If you want to harvest the money, you need to plant the seeds. And what are the seeds? The seeds are hard training.”

Ochre-red dust ferrets itself into the smile-lines on his face and clings to his eyelashes and hairs on his legs during a punishing training run through the forest that he and dozens of other athletes from separate training camps meet up for before dawn.

By training together, the runners spur each other on, Kipchoge says.

“I help them, they help me,” he says. “This is mutual interest.”

The jangle of a bicycle bell screwed to the wall in the dormitory corridor signals the 5 a.m. start of the day at the Global Sports camp that Kiprotich and Kipchoge share with about a dozen other runners from Kenya and abroad.

They eat breakfast together around a plain wooden table in the kitchen hut, washing down sliced white bread with tea from a giant aluminum kettle, drunk from plain enamel tin mugs. Water is boiled in a blackened, wood-fired stove. Washed plates, mugs and cutlery are left in the sun to dry.

The communal recreation room has a small TV, a rare concession to modernity, and also doubles as a storage area for sacks of grain. Runners get leg-rubs on a massage table in one corner. The athletes’ training programs, scribbled by hand on torn-off sheets of paper, are pinned to the wall by the door.

Abdi Nageeye, a Somali-born Dutch athlete, is training for the first time at the camp. He was initially shocked by the Spartan conditions and “really starving from hunger.” But he has come to understand how it allows stars like Kipchoge to shut themselves off from outside distractions.

“His friends, they always want something from him,” he says. “It’s better for him to escape to here, no one will disrupt him.”

Nageeye and Kiprotich both say it wouldn’t be possible for a runner at the camp to dope without others knowing, because they live in such close proximity and barge into each other’s rooms without knocking.

Kiprotich, the Olympic marathon champion in 2012 and World champion in 2013, says drug testers regularly visit the camp unannounced to collect samples. He says he doesn’t understand why any athlete would dope.

“It seems that the athletes who do that, they want to make a shortcut, they don’t want to follow a long route,” he says.

The camp, he adds, “is the long route.”

It has been the Ugandan’s training base for six years. He says he loses track of days that blend into a blur of training, chores, and down-time.

“We live like soldiers and the reason I say that is because we do all the work. When the cook is not around, we cook for ourselves. On top of that we do training, and training must continue. If it is your time to do such and such a job, you make sure you do it very fast.”

“Rule number one: all athletes are equal,” he explains. “It doesn’t matter if you are a champion or an Olympic champion or an upcoming athlete, we are all the same.”

MORE: Full NBC Olympic trials broadcast schedule

In this Jan. 30, 2016, photo Kenyan long-distance runner Geoffrey Kipsang Kamworor checks messages on his phone as he receives an after-training massage at the Global Sports camp near the village of Kaptagat in western Kenya. At the high-altitude training camp in Kenya, star athletes turn their back on modernity and bling for a simple life of hard training and communal, egalitarian living. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)
In this Jan. 30, 2016, photo Kenyan long-distance runner Geoffrey Kipsang Kamworor checks messages on his phone as he receives an after-training massage at the Global Sports camp near the village of Kaptagat in western Kenya. At the high-altitude training camp in Kenya, star athletes turn their back on modernity and bling for a simple life of hard training and communal, egalitarian living. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)
In this Jan. 30, 2016, photo winner of the London, Berlin and Chicago marathons Eliud Kipchoge, left, prepares to change clothes after his morning training run, in the small bedroom he shares with fellow runner Tareq Mubarak Taher, right, who represents Bahrain, at the Global Sports camp near the village of Kaptagat in western Kenya. At the high-altitude training camp in Kenya, star athletes turn their back on modernity and bling for a simple life of hard training and communal, egalitarian living. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)
In this Jan. 30, 2016, photo winner of the London, Berlin and Chicago marathons Eliud Kipchoge, left, prepares to change clothes after his morning training run, in the small bedroom he shares with fellow runner Tareq Mubarak Taher, right, who represents Bahrain, at the Global Sports camp near the village of Kaptagat in western Kenya. At the high-altitude training camp in Kenya, star athletes turn their back on modernity and bling for a simple life of hard training and communal, egalitarian living. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)
In this Jan. 30, 2016, photo sweat-soaked clothes are draped over bushes to dry in the sun, as runner Nicholas Rotich takes a rest after the morning training run, at the Global Sports camp near the village of Kaptagat in western Kenya. At the high-altitude training camp in Kenya, star athletes turn their back on modernity and bling for a simple life of hard training and communal, egalitarian living. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)
In this Jan. 30, 2016, photo sweat-soaked clothes are draped over bushes to dry in the sun, as runner Nicholas Rotich takes a rest after the morning training run, at the Global Sports camp near the village of Kaptagat in western Kenya. At the high-altitude training camp in Kenya, star athletes turn their back on modernity and bling for a simple life of hard training and communal, egalitarian living. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)
In this Jan. 30, 2016, photo a hand-written roster pinned to the wall tells runners when it’s their turn to do communal chores, at the Global Sports camp near the village of Kaptagat in western Kenya. At the high-altitude training camp in Kenya, star athletes turn their back on modernity and bling for a simple life of hard training and communal, egalitarian living. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)
In this Jan. 30, 2016, photo a hand-written roster pinned to the wall tells runners when it’s their turn to do communal chores, at the Global Sports camp near the village of Kaptagat in western Kenya. At the high-altitude training camp in Kenya, star athletes turn their back on modernity and bling for a simple life of hard training and communal, egalitarian living. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)
In this Jan. 30, 2016, photo winner of the London, Berlin and Chicago marathons Eliud Kipchoge, center right, stretches with other athletes after their morning training run in Kaptagat Forest in western Kenya. At a high-altitude training camp in Kenya, star athletes turn their back on modernity and bling for a simple life of hard training and communal, egalitarian living. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)
In this Jan. 30, 2016, photo winner of the London, Berlin and Chicago marathons Eliud Kipchoge, center right, stretches with other athletes after their morning training run in Kaptagat Forest in western Kenya. At a high-altitude training camp in Kenya, star athletes turn their back on modernity and bling for a simple life of hard training and communal, egalitarian living. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)
In this Jan. 30, 2016, photo winner of the London, Berlin and Chicago marathons Eliud Kipchoge, second right, trains with other athletes just after dawn in Kaptagat Forest in western Kenya. At a high-altitude training camp in Kenya, star athletes turn their back on modernity and bling for a simple life of hard training and communal, egalitarian living. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)
In this Jan. 30, 2016, photo winner of the London, Berlin and Chicago marathons Eliud Kipchoge, second right, trains with other athletes just after dawn in Kaptagat Forest in western Kenya. At a high-altitude training camp in Kenya, star athletes turn their back on modernity and bling for a simple life of hard training and communal, egalitarian living. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)
In this Jan. 30, 2016, photo a bicycle bell used to signal the athletes' 5 a.m. start of the day, hangs on the wall of the dormitory corridor at the Global Sports camp near the village of Kaptagat in western Kenya. At the high-altitude training camp in Kenya, star athletes turn their back on modernity and bling for a simple life of hard training and communal, egalitarian living. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)
In this Jan. 30, 2016, photo a bicycle bell used to signal the athletes’ 5 a.m. start of the day, hangs on the wall of the dormitory corridor at the Global Sports camp near the village of Kaptagat in western Kenya. At the high-altitude training camp in Kenya, star athletes turn their back on modernity and bling for a simple life of hard training and communal, egalitarian living. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

2020 Tour de France standings

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2020 Tour de France results for the yellow jersey, green jersey, white jersey and polka-dot jersey …

Overall (Yellow Jersey)
1. Tadej Pogacar (SLO) — 87:20:05
2. Primoz Roglic (SLO) — +:59
3. Richie Porte (AUS) — +3:30
4. Mikel Landa (ESP) — +5:58
5. Enric Mas (ESP) — +6:07
6. Miguel Angel Lopez (COL) — +6:47
7. Tom Dumoulin (NED) — +7:48
8. Rigberto Uran (COL) — +8:02
9. Adam Yates (GBR) — +9:25
10. Damiano Caruso (ITA) — +14:03
13. Richard Carapaz (ECU) — +25:53
15. Sepp Kuss (USA) — +42:20
17. Nairo Quintana (COL) — +1:03:07
29. Thibaut Pinot (FRA) — +1:59:54
36. Julian Alaphilippe (FRA) — +2:19:11
DNF. Egan Bernal (COL)

Sprinters (Green Jersey)
1. Sam Bennett (IRL) — 380 points
2. Peter Sagan (SVK) — 284
3. Matteo Trentin (ITA) — 260
4. Bryan Coquard (FRA) — 181
5. Wout van Aert (BEL) — 174

Climbers (Polka-Dot Jersey)
1. Tadej Pogacar (SLO) — 82 points
2. Richard Carapaz (ECU) — 74
3. Primoz Roglic (SLO) — 67
4. Marc Hirschi (SUI) — 62
5. Miguel Angel Lopez (COL) — 51

Young Rider (White Jersey)
1. Tadej Pogacar (SLO) — 87:20:13
2. Enric Mas (ESP) — +6:07
3. Valentin Madouas (FRA) — +1:42:43
4. Dani Martinez (COL) — +1:55:12
5. Lennard Kamna (GER) — +2:15:39

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TOUR DE FRANCE: TV, Stream Schedule | Stage By Stage | Favorites, Predictions

Tadej Pogacar, Slovenia win Tour de France for the ages

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A Tour de France that almost didn’t happen ended up among the most exciting in the race’s 117-year history.

Tadej Pogacar, a 21-year-old Slovenian, rode into Paris on Sunday as the first man in more than 60 years to pedal in the yellow jersey for the first time on the final day of a Tour.

Let’s get the achievements out of the way: Pogacar is the first Slovenian to win the Tour, finishing with the other overall leaders behind stage winner Sam Bennett on the Champs-Elysees.

“Even if I would come second or last, it wouldn’t matter, it would be still nice to be here,” Pogacar said. “This is just the top of the top. I cannot describe this feeling with the words.”

He is the second-youngest winner in race history, after Henri Cornet in 1904. (Cornet won after the first four finishers were disqualified for unspecified cheating. The 19-year-old Frenchman rode 21 miles with a flat tire during the last stage after spectators reportedly threw nails on the road.)

Pogacar is the first man to win a Tour in his debut since Frenchman Laurent Fignon in 1983.

And he’s part of a historic one-two for Slovenia, a nation with the population of Houston.

Countryman Primoz Roglic, who wore the yellow jersey for nearly two weeks before ceding it after Saturday’s epic time trial, embraced Pogacar after a tearful defeat Saturday and again during Sunday’s stage.

Tasmanian Richie Porte, who moved from fourth place to third on Saturday, made his first Tour podium in his 10th start, a record according to ProCyclingStats.com. The age range on the Paris gloaming podium — more than 13 years — is reportedly the largest in Tour history.

TOUR DE FRANCE: Standings | TV, Stream Schedule | Stage By Stage

Three men on a Tour de France podium in the shadow of the Arc de Triomphe, each for the first time. Hasn’t been done since 2007, arguably the first Tour of a new era.

This Tour feels similarly guard-changing.

It barely got off, delayed two months by the coronavirus pandemic. Two days before the start, France’s prime minister said the virus was “gaining ground” in the nation and announced new “red zones” in the country, including parts of the Tour route.

Testing protocols meant that if any team had two members (cyclists or staff) test positive before the start or on either rest day, the whole team would be thrown out.

It never came to that. Yet the Tour finishes without 2019 champion, Colombian Egan Bernal, who last year became the first South American winner and, at the time, the youngest in more than 100 years.

Bernal abandoned last Wednesday after struggling in the mountains. His standings plummet signaled the end, at least for now, of the Ineos Grenadiers dynasty after five straight Tour titles dating to Chris Froome and the Team Sky days.

Jumbo-Visma became the new dominant team. The leader Roglic was ushered up climbs by several Jumbo men, including Sepp Kuss, the most promising American male cyclist in several years.

What a story Roglic was shaping up to be. A junior champion ski jumper, he was concussed in a training crash on the eve of what would have been his World Cup debut in 2007. Roglic never made it to the World Cup before quitting and taking up cycling years later.

As Roglic recovered from that spill in Planica, Pogacar had his sights on the Rog Ljubljana cycling club about 60 miles east. Little Tadej wanted to follow older brother Tilen into bike racing, but the club didn’t have a bike small enough.

The following spring, they found one. Pogacar was off and pedaling. In 2018, at age 18, he was offered a contract and then signed with UAE Team Emirates, his first World Tour team. The next year, Pogacar finished third at the Vuelta a Espana won by Roglic, becoming the youngest Grand Tour podium finisher since 1974.

Pogacar was initially slated to support another rider, Fabio Aru, for UAE Emirates at this year’s Tour. But his continued ascent propelled him into a team leader role.

Bernal and Roglic entered the Tour as co-favorites. After that, Pogacar was among a group of podium contenders but perhaps with the highest ceiling.

He stayed with the favorites for much of the Tour, save losing 81 seconds on the seventh stage, caught on the wrong end of a split after a crash in front of him.

“I’m not worried,” Pogacar said that day. “We will try another day.”

The next day, actually. He reeled back half of the lost time, putting him within striking distance of Roglic going into Saturday’s 22-mile time trial, the so-called “race of truth.”

Pogacar put in a performance in the time trial that reminded of Greg LeMond‘s epic finale in 1989. Pogacar won the stage by 81 seconds, greater than the margin separating second place from eighth place. Roglic was a disappointing fifth on the day, but he could have finished second and still lost all of his 57-second lead to Pogacar.

Pogacar turns 22 on Monday, but that might not add much to the celebration.

“Sorry,” he said, “but I’m not really a fan of my birthdays.”

MORE: USA Cycling names Olympic team finalists

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